A couple of weeks ago, Jim and I were having lunch with some friends and, since it was the day after Halloween, we got to talking about ghosts. Considering that these are friends of ours, I guess that's not such a strange thing to have happen.
And so we began swapping stories, and as frequently occurs, we started venturing past the traditional unexplained noises-and-apparition variety of story. First came the idea of being visited through a dream. I was happy to hear that at least one other person there felt that he had been visited by a deceased loved one in the guise of a dream. I have had the same experience, and when I awoke afterward, I've always felt that what happened to me wasn't so much a dream as it was an actual visit.
I don't imagine skeptical people will buy into that, but dreams that feel like visits don't evaporate like regular dreams. There is nothing strange or surreal about them, either. They pretty much involve having a conversation with the person in question and upon waking, the feeling is just like the person had stopped by for a chat and then left again. My father came to me like that twice. I remember both visits vividly and no one could ever convince me that he wasn't really there. The first happened about three days before he passed away, and the second was on the night of his passing. I have never doubted that he came to see me both times.
And then the conversation went just a little further into the strange when one of our friends said that he had seen ghosts of people who aren't dead. Okay, that statement needed some clarification. He proceeded to explain that one time he was sitting in his living room when he saw his wife go into the kitchen in her nightgown. The kitchen light never came on so he went in to see what she was doing in the dark. Of course, she wasn't in the kitchen and when he checked on her in the bedroom, she was sound asleep. He said that this had happened to him with one of his other friends, as well, when he spotted that person and then found out later that said person was asleep at the time of the sighting.
(I didn't think to ask if the person looked transparent at the time. I'll have to remember to do that.)
The only explanation that we could come up with was that the person was literally wandering out of the body while asleep. If that's the case, he said, then some of the apparitions we see may actually be living people, not dead.
I've had a couple of weeks to think about that and for some reason, the idea of seeing the spirits of the living freaks me out almost more than seeing that of the dead. I have no idea why. My sister once saw my brother and my father through the window of the front door, standing on the porch as if waiting for her to open the door. They would have been coming back from a dentist visit. The thing was, when she opened the door, they weren't there. When they did arrive home about fifteen minutes after she first saw them, she told me to open the door and let them in. She was still too weirded out to greet them herself. The even stranger thing about that, in retrospect, is that neither of them would have been asleep, not while driving home from the dentist. So maybe she saw their doppelgangers? But that's a whole 'nother paranormal topic!
At any event, the idea of a living ghost has been hanging around in my mind and I wonder if I can figure out something to do with it in a future story. For Cassie and Michael, tracking down a spirit who just happens to be that of a living person, well, that could lead to some interesting complications, no?